Oak mites return earlier than expected - KCTV5

Oak mites return earlier than expected

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Too soon to talk about oak mites? Unfortunately, it's not. (File photo.) Too soon to talk about oak mites? Unfortunately, it's not. (File photo.)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Too soon to talk about oak mites? Unfortunately, it's not.

These pesky itchy mites are actually here ahead of schedule. Usually oak mites aren't a problem until fall.

However, experts are saying the mild winter is drawing them out of hibernation earlier than expected. 

According to horticulturist Dennis Patton, oak mites are already biting in the metro. 

"Our reports started in February and usually you don't start hearing about them until August/September,” Patton said.

He said because of the mild winter, the insect never went fully dormant. 

"Something that we thought was just a fall problem, you know august through September, now almost this past year has become a year-round problem for the people here in the Kansas City Area,” Patton said.

The microscopic pests feed on the larva of insects that live in oak leaves. 

Though humans can play host to them as well. 

"When this mite exits the Oakleaf, it then blows, falls on us and bites causing a severe itch or rash,” Patton said.

He said there's little research on oak mites and nothing they can yet target to control the issue. 

"What’s potentially a little bit scary for us right now is having this outbreak so early that we've got a higher population now, our concern is that if they really reproduce like gangbusters during 2017 come fall we can even have a more serious outbreak than last year which was probably the worst on record,” Patton said.

So how do you prevent you're self from being a victim to one of these bites? Patton said spraying your trees won't help. 

"The problem is the mite is inside this goll, so it's protected by leaf tissue so when you spray the tree you're not getting them might because it's protected,” Patton said.

He said wearing long sleeved clothing, using insect repellent and taking a shower after working in the yard is your best bet.  

“Weather patterns could change and it could go away and not be a problem. We just kind of fear the unknown,” Patton said.

Patton said even if you don't have an oak tree in your yard, you should still be cautious.

Oak mites can land on you just from blowing in the wind. 

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